It seems as if the wireless communication industry is engaging in a relentless growth spurt where generations upon generations of communication protocols have been launched and made obsolete. Starting in the 1980s, we are now on our way to a technologically even smarter world (if that’s possible) with the imminent arrival of the fifth generation (5G).
What’s the hype about 5G for anyway?
With rapid, extensive, and immense maturation in the field of Video on Demand and online TV services, the appetite for a truly mobile broadband experience is set to soar. And 5G promises a theoretical increase of a thousand folds in speed and data capacity. However, that exclusive attention on the increased data rate of wireless communications is exactly where everyone is going wrong. If one were to focus solely on such factors, it would be like forgetting to buy a SIM Card with a mobile phone; it completely destroys its significance.
To most people, all that is important is the promised data speed of more than a 100 Mbps that 5G offers. However, the delay or the latency in communication, which is set to fall down to 10 milliseconds is going to make a world of a difference for virtual reality components and self-driving cars and air taxis where both speed and reaction time matter.
An even more interesting application of 5G stems from the fact that its enormous speed gives it the edge it needs to bring wireless communication to fixed broadbands. That way, instead of fixed lines, consumers would be able to utilize the concept of Fixed Wireless Access at their homes, which will surely improve broadband experiences.
That way, 5G offers a delightfully fast communication experience with a thousand times faster data rate than its predecessor.
How will the operators benefit?
“Ultimately, it’s simply not sustainable to keep launching a new technology every ten years or so. There are license fees to pay for new radio frequency spectrum bands, new network infrastructure to build, and an increase in the management costs associated with integrating new technology with existing infrastructure – while keeping all of the other previous generations of networkoperational. UK operators, for example, continue to support 2G, 3G, and 4G while preparing to launch 5G.”
– Nigel Linge
However, even with such challenges, the benefit to operators are numerous. The higher frequencies associated with the 5G protocols will allow a larger area of coverage and provide a more consistent user experience than ever before. The consistency is set to be better even in high density areas.
Furthermore, with such remarkable (theoretically) connectivity, the Internet of Things will find a far better functioning under this generation as it relies on a large number of sensors and systems in a confined area, with all devices interconnected and sharing data at all times.
One novel concept that 5G brings is the ability to offer different services to different groups of users over the same network. That way, the industry will be able to future-proof the infrastructure and there will no longer be a need for the next or the sixth generation (6G). The network therefore, will evolve and companies will be able to decommission older protocols without loss of service or quality.
Conclusion – Will 5G Pay?
That’s where the challenges set in. Clearly, with already fast data rates, 4G is good enough for most personal customers and it will prove a large headache for investors to think bigger than ever. UK mobile operators have already invested almost £1.1 billion to procure the necessary 3.4 GHz frequencies for the 5G spectrum. Furthermore, they will require several more million pounds to build the requisite infrastructure and all this is happening even before 5G has gone public and revenues have started building up.
Therefore, it is going to be a big challenge to effectively monetize the network and companies and manufacturers will have to look towards more novel solutions like IoT and technologies of the future that lie beyond mobile consumers. The market depends on the outlook and approach that companies and their partners take.